My true love isn’t both of my husbands or my two children. It was Rip Van Winkle. Yes, the one in Washington Irving’s story, “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow.” Rip’s the guy who slept for 20 years in the Catskill Mountains. My Rip, the one I love, is a nineteen-inch bronze statue I found in 1968 in an overlooked attic of an estate. Rip sat in that attic for eighteen years before I rescued him. With great enthusiasm, I brought him home to show my first husband, Bob. He wasn’t impressed and hid my beloved Rip in a dark corner of our family room.
When I divorced Bob, I got custody of my true love, Rip. But my second husband, Ralph, wasn’t fond of Rip, either. When we moved to a townhouse, poor, rejected Rip was relegated to an obscure niche on the third floor. At least he had more light than his previous dark corners. Overlooked, my adored Rip sat languishing and humiliated in our obscure corners for years.
Rip’s sculptor was discovered to be Daniel Chester French. You don’t know him? You know his work, I’m sure. He sculpted the statue of Lincoln in the Lincoln Memorial. An appraiser gave Rip an unexpected high appraisal. After Ralph found out how valuable and unique Rip was, well, that was another story. The day Ralph learned of Rip’s provenance, he moved him from the third floor to the first floor and put him in a prominent place on a pedestal. Today, my love, Rip, sits on a windowsill by my desk. No longer overlooked.
I told this story to a friend after Ralph died, and she asked me, “Do you know the moral of this story?” “No,” I replied. She said “The moral is husbands come, and husbands go, but Rip stays!”